7 Beginner Tips for a Mass-Start Event
Though it might seem scary at first, it isn't as bad as it sounds.
These seven beginner tips below will teach you how to pace yourself and navigate safely through the pack. Once you're near the finish, those thousands of other riders that made you anxious at the start line will be the same cyclists that'll give you the boost you need to reach the finish.
Give Yourself Space
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The beginning of a race is not the time to go bonkers. Navigate through the crowd slowly and safely until you reach a speed that you're comfortable maintaining for the duration of the race.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of space from the other cyclists around you too. Even if you're comfortable with your skills and have completed a few races before, you can never be sure of the intentions of the other cyclists around you. It's best to keep enough distance so that you'll be able to get out of the way should a crash occur.
Let Other Cyclists Know Your Intentions
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In a mass-start event, it's likely that you'll end up passing plenty of other cyclists. When you're overtaking riders that are ahead of you, it's a safe practice to give a verbal warning of your intentions.
If you're going to pass a rider on the left, yell from behind, "On your left!" to alert the cyclist. This will keep the rider you're passing from moving unexpectedly into the space you plan to occupy.
Ride on the Right
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It's a safe practice to ride close to the right shoulder of the road and only move to the left when passing. This will keep other cyclists from having to weave in and out of traffic, which can be dangerous.
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In running, it's called negative splits. Pace yourself by riding easy during the first half of the race. If you feel good, you can always speed up the during the second half.
Invite Your Friends
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If you have other cyclists that you train with, ask them to join you at the event. Having a familiar group of cyclists next to you will help to take away some of your nervousness, and it'll ensure that you're riding with cyclists of similar ability.
Know the Course
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It's a good idea to break the course into manageable chunks. Setting out for a hundred or more miles can be a lot to take in mentally. Instead, find out before the race where the restroom or aid stations are.
Make it your goal to reach these points instead of concentrating on the finish line. If you have enough checkpoints set up for yourself, you'll reach the finish in no time.
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Most cyclists wait too long to begin eating. Once your energy stores are depleted, you'll be playing catch up. It's best to start eating early, even if you aren't hungry, to avoid bonking later on. For long events, you should eat at least once piece of food (energy bar, banana, etc.) and drink one bottle of fluid for every hour of riding.